Sunday, 17 August 2014

May I introduce Mr Thomas Wilkinson Wallis of Louth?

We visited Louth museum last week, which is a very interesting place with a lot of things to look at, from Roman pottery to a Victorian wedding dress.  While there, we made the acquaintance of a very talented woodcarver, Thomas Wilkinson Wallis (1821-1903), who lived and worked in Louth itself (and, judging from the photograph above, possessed a fine Victorian beard too). Although an initial internet search didn't seem to reveal much (and I think that may be because I didn't spell his name correctly - oops!), Chris has found that actually, there seems to be quite a lot out there, such as the Louth Museum website and his autobiography as well as a carving in the V & A . His work continues the tradition of woodcarving using limewood and he is the natural successor to Grinling Gibbons, albeit a century or so later. (Apologies in advance for the blurriness and general poor quality of the photos - the lights in the museum made it very difficult to get a clear picture and my hands obviously weren't quite as steady as they needed to be! However, I hope the photos give you a reasonable idea of some of the work).
This amazing piece of work was created in 1871, using just two pieces of wood.
Here's a close up of the carving on the left, showing a detail of the wood, carved into with added knots, so that it looks more rustic, as though it is from an old gate or fence. 
He signed the piece at the base.
Here's the information the museum had about him (if you click on the photo, it should enlarge).
 This photo shows a piece he created for the Great Exhibition of 1851, called 'Trophy of Spring' which was three feet high and the largest he ever carved. According to the details, it is in a collection in the USA.  He won a medal at the Great Exhibition for this piece.

Replicas of the medals he received are displayed too.
Although I'm not that keen on the idea of dead birds, they do demonstrate his skill.  The birds are hanging from a piece of string tied to a nail and it is difficult to believe it is all wood.  I am so pleased we went to the museum, otherwise I wouldn't have been able to share some of his incredible work with you. Lovely to have met you, Mr Wilkinson Wallis.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Back to felting

 It has been absolutely ages since I made any felt.  I was feeling so guilty because jewellery making and creating with polymer clay had totally absorbed any creative time I had. People kept asking whether I had made any felt and every time I answered in the negative, the guilt crept up on me again.  However, when I finally got round to making some felt, last week, I realised how much I had missed it. So, the piece above is in its pre-felted and fluffy glory and is made from wool from my sister's sheep with Lincoln Longwool (the wiggly white wool) on the top as decoration.  It was the first time I had used Lincoln Longwool, and it was lovely! Just in case you wondered what the sheep look like, here's a photo from the Lincoln Longwool website .
How they can actually see where they are going is a bit of a mystery, but they do have lovely fleeces.
So, what does the finished felted piece look like?  Like this...
All the wiggles stayed in the wool, which I was pleased about, because one of the joys of felt making is that the wool does decide how it is going to turn out, despite the maker's best efforts to persuade it otherwise, so you can never be totally sure how it will look once felted. This piece is going to be cut up and made into something for one of the blog swaps I am signed up to, but I will share the finished article with you once the item has arrived with my swap partner.  I am going to start felt making again more regularly - I really enjoy it.

I have signed up to another blog swap too with Blueberry Heart, one that I really enjoy and this will be my third time for this particular swap.  There's still time to join in if you would like to, just click on the link...

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Garden catch up

 Here are the photos that I was going to upload but couldn't, due to the lost cable debacle. This is the hanging basket outside the front door, which cheers me up every time I see it.  The plants came from B&Q and I didn't really have high hopes for them but the growth and flowering has been fantastic.
 This petunia is particularly pretty and is scented too.
Here is a grown from seed Nicotiana 'Lime Green' which has also put on a lot of growth.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I haven't grown these before, but they were easy to grow and have turned into handsome plants.  
 The ever cheerful Helianthus 'Lemon Queen' - the first of many photos this year, I'm sure.
 Pretty pink phlox.
 Exotic blooms of Hibiscus Syriacus 'Bluebird', another flower which features on my blog every year.
 Zingy orange and yellow Crocosmia, or is that Montbretia?  The common one, anyway.
 Fuchsia pink calibrachoa in the hanging baskets at the back.
 New hydrangea flowers which remind me of tiny cauliflowers.
 A swirly, spherical seed head from Clematis Ice Blue.
The jury is out on this hydrangea - Magical Revolution - and I'm not sure it quite lives up to the hype.  The flowers were supposed to be amazing, turning different shades of pink, cream and green.  Yes, they have done that, but...I'm not sure.  
 The newest member of the garden, Clematis Blue Angel.  Pale lilac flowers with 'crenellated edges' according to the label.  I am a sucker for clematis and have quite a few now.
Finally, here's the Nicotiana 'Lime Green' flower, looking as lime green as the name implies and contrasting well with the purple geranium 'Rozanne' in the background.  Keep going, garden, you're doing really well!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

(Test Card F courtesy of Wikipedia)
Apologies if this image is one of those which you find a little scary - I could have put the Potter's Wheel picture instead, but this is the one I associate with loss of TV programmes! I have been somewhat quiet over the last week, partly because I was having one of those blogging moments where I didn't know what to talk about.
Having decided to get inspiration in the garden, I duly took some photos and was going to load them when disaster struck - search where I might, I couldn't locate my camera USB cable!  I know when I last had it, but cannot find it anywhere (much to my annoyance).
Having spent a few hours in fruitless searching, I have now ordered another one, but until it arrives, I am stuck. So, normal service will be resumed once my new cable arrives and yes, I know that as soon as it does, I'll find the original one!
Voiceover: "We're sorry for this break in our programme but we are doing our best to fix the problem as quickly as possible.  Until then, here's some music" *Test Card Music*
(Common PAL test pattern, also from Wikipedia)

Added 23:05
Well, would you believe it?  About an hour ago, Chris moved some books on the table (bear in mind we had looked on the table, of course) and there was the missing camera cable, looking as though it hadn't made us spend a good part of the day looking for it at all!  So, success in that I can get back to posting.  
Of course, it also means that I will have a spare cable, just in case it decides to go AWOL again...

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Visit to Newby Hall

I spent a lovely day yesterday at Newby Hall, with my good friends Katy and Alison.  Newby is one of our favourite places to visit and is about 2 hours drive north from us, near Ripon.  It is a lovely house and we enjoyed the tour, led by some very enthusiastic guides.  There is an amazing tapestry room, one of the only ones in the world with the tapestries which were originally designed for it, still in situ.  There are also many Chippendale pieces of furniture, again, made for the house.  There is also one of the earliest sculpture galleries, with Roman sculptures on display.  However, Newby is also known for its beautiful gardens., with a huge herbaceous border which runs down from the house to the river.
 This lily pond in on the terrace by the house.
In another part of the garden, there is a rockery/grotto area, with a picturesque arch.
 From the upper terrace, you can see into the tops of some of the trees.
 This is Sylvia's Garden, a very quiet and peaceful garden, names for the current owner's grandmother.
 Two greyhounds or whippets sit on guard at the entrance.
 The water in this fountain was lovely to listen to on such a scorchingly hot day.
 Everywhere you look there is another lovely view.
 I was taken by the colours of this beech hedge, with the sun lighting up the bright red new growth.
 Another enticing view...
 And another...
 I didn't take many photos of flowers, but this coral coloured red hot poker caught my eye.
 As did this lovely echinacea.
As has become a tradition on our visits to Newby, we stopped off for tea and cake, or scone, jam and clotted cream, in my case. As you may know, I don't like dried fruit, but as fruit scones are the only ones on offer, I just had to pick the fruit out.  I have been known to make rather a mess, but I managed to be reasonably tidy yesterday.  I didn't waste the fruit, as I donated it to a robin, a young blackbird and a chaffinch, who were waiting patiently for some crumbs. Despite the fruit, the scone was delicious!
We had a lovely day at one of our favourite places.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Icon jewellery exhibition

 Last Saturday, we headed to the National Centre for Craft and Design again, to look at a jewellery exhibition called Icons.  It was an interesting idea - jewellers were asked to create a piece for a person or thing that they considered an icon. I was allowed to take photos, which is always a bonus.
 This amethyst ring and the moonstone necklace in the next two photos were designed for Tilda Swinton and capture her cool, detached, ethereal quality very well, I feel.

 I loved the sweeping curves of the moonstone torque neckalce.
 This necklace and ring set was created for a polar bear.  The jeweller used resin to create the icy arctic blue.
 Chris and I both liked this one, inspired by The Shard.
 Again, there was a great sense of movement in the design.
 The complex and impressive piece was designed for David Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' song/album.
 The two iron spheres encrusted in flowers and skulls made from lots of semi-precious gems was made for Alexander McQueen.
 This was another of my favourites as I found the design fascinating.  It looked like a box, but when you looked at the photos, you could see there was a square brooch in the centre, then a square bangle and a square necklace, made up from smaller squares.  Only when the three were displayed together would you see the shape of the angel wings, showing the inspiration.
 A beautiful thing in its own right.
 The blues of this piece appealed to me and on closer inspection, the shape of the towers from the Battersea Power Station appeared.
 This piece was Chris' favourite - Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, was the icon here.
 There was a huge amount of attention to detail shown here, from the complex beading to the printed writing on the back of the oval pendant.
 This quite classic looking Viking/Celtic-type bangle was inspired by a female character from Game of Thrones.
Finally, this simple looking piece of circuit board was designed for Alan Turing, the computer scientist and the jeweller had written that the inclusion of pink referred to the fight against prejudice as Alan Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality and died from cyanide poisoning. According to Wikipedia, he received a posthumous pardon from the Queen in December 2013.
I really enjoyed seeing these pieces - there were many others too, including two for Vivienne Westwood, but the ones I have featured are the ones that appealed to me most.
Here's a little something to think about - which icon would you have chosen?